3 Native American tribes sue opioid industry groups

January 9, 2018

Three Native American tribes in the Dakotas are suing opioid manufacturers and distributors, alleging they concealed and minimized the addiction risk of prescription drugs.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe and the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate sued 24 industry groups in federal court on Monday. Defendants include drug manufacturers Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Allergan, and distributors McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp.

The lawsuit follows more than 70 cases filed across the country, including in Mississippi, Washington, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Ohio. It is one of the first to tie claims to the drugs' impact on Native Americans.

The Cherokee Nation launched a similar suit in April.

The tribes are being represented by former North Dakota U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon and former South Dakota U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson.

"The prescription opioid crisis has hit Indian Country hard," said Purdon. He added he is "hopeful" that other North Dakota tribes will also file suit.

The complaint noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in 10 Native Americans used prescription opioids for non-medical purposes in 2012, which is double the rate of whites.

Between 2015 and 2016, Native Americans represented almost 18 percent of opioid-related deaths and 28 percent of patients treated for opioid use in South Dakota. At the time, Native Americans made up 9 percent of the state's population.

"This epidemic has overwhelmed our public-health and law-enforcement services, drained resources for addiction therapy, and sent the cost of caring for children of opioid-addicted parents skyrocketing," said Johnson.

Allegations against the defendants include deceptive marketing, fraudulent and negligent conduct and violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act. The complaint seeks a jury trial to determine monetary damages as well as an "abatement fund" to pay for treatment programs.

The companies hadn't responded to the suit as of Monday.

Explore further: Ohio sues five drugmakers over role in opioid crisis

Related Stories

Ohio sues five drugmakers over role in opioid crisis

May 31, 2017
The US state of Ohio on Wednesday sued five major producers of prescription opioid medications, accusing them of lying about the deadly risks the painkillers—at the center of a nationwide addiction crisis—posed to public ...

Cherokee nation sues retailers, distributors over opioid crisis

April 24, 2017
(HealthDay)—A lawsuit has been filed by an Indian nation against six of the top drug distributors and pharmacies in the United States for harm done by prescription pain medications.

Americans favor treatment, not enforcement, to address opioid crisis

May 23, 2017
Many Americans have been directly touched by the opioid crisis—more than a quarter of Americans and more than a third of millennials, report knowing someone who has been addicted to opioids or prescription painkillers. ...

Washington state, Seattle are latest to sue opioid makers

September 28, 2017
Washington state and the city of Seattle on Thursday joined more than two dozen other government entities across the country suing to hold opioid makers accountable for an addiction crisis that has claimed thousands of lives.

South Carolina sues drug manufacturer over opioid crisis

August 15, 2017
South Carolina has become the latest state to accuse a drug manufacturer of exacerbating its opioid drug crisis by using deceptive marketing, with the state's top prosecutor suing the maker of OxyContin.

States expand investigation of opioid makers, distributors

September 19, 2017
Attorneys general from most states are broadening their investigation into the opioid industry as a nationwide overdose crisis continues to claim thousands of lives.

Recommended for you

Certain teens more likely to get hooked on opioids

March 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—Teenagers with any mental health problem are more prone to painkiller dependence after receiving a prescription opioid, a new study finds.

Prescription opioids fail rigorous new test for chronic pain

March 6, 2018
A yearlong study offers rigorous new evidence against using prescription opioids for chronic pain.

Study suggests failed osteoarthritis drug could help treat opioid addiction

February 27, 2018
A new study from Indiana University suggests that a drug proven safe for use in people may prevent opioid tolerance and physical dependence when used in combination with opioid-based pain medications.

Complex inhalers prevent patients from taking medicine

February 23, 2018
Respiratory disease patients with arthritis could struggle to manage their conditions because their inhalers are too fiddly for them to use, University of Bath research has found.

Opioid abuse leads to heroin use and a hepatitis C epidemic, researcher says

February 22, 2018
Heroin is worse than other drugs because people inject it much sooner, potentially resulting in increased risk of injection-related epidemics such as hepatitis C and HIV, a Keck School of Medicine of USC study shows.

Opioid addiction treatment behind bars reduced post-incarceration overdose deaths in RI

February 14, 2018
A treatment program for opioid addiction launched by the Rhode Island Department of Corrections was associated with a significant drop in post-incarceration drug overdose deaths and contributed to an overall drop in overdose ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.